As with any new sport, playing disc golf for the first time can be a little intimidating, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be fun. Whether your friends invited you out for a round, or you decided to try it yourself, I’d like to say, “Congratulations, and welcome to the most laid back intense sport you'll ever play!"
“What is disc golf?” you ask. Disc golf is very similar to traditional golf. However, the game is played with a flying disc rather than a ball and clubs. The object of the game is to complete each hole in as few strokes (throws) as possible. Play begins when a player throws a disc from a tee area towards a hole (disc golf basket). The player then makes each consecutive throw from the spot where their throw landed until they have successfully thrown the disc into the hole. A round of disc golf is typically 9 or 18 holes.
Disc golf is a fun, low cost sport that just about anyone can play. All you need are a few discs and a basket, and you’re in business. With new courses popping across the country, there’s likely to be one near you, and it may even be free to play as many city parks are have courses open to the public. If you’re looking for a place to play, then check out the course directory map on the Professional Disc Golf Association's website by clicking here.
Disclaimer--I’m no pro. I’d hardly even consider myself a “good” amateur player. But I have learned a few things playing disc golf over the past few years that I wish I had known when I got started. If you’re new to the game, or thinking about playing for the first time, then here are six tips to help get you started from an average Joe. For those seasoned players, let this blog post be a reminder of what your first days on the course were like and please share any additional tips you have in the comments below.
- Be Patient—Embrace your status as the “new guy/gal”. You’re not going to be the best player on the course, and that’s okay. Relax, and laugh at yourself when the disc goes nowhere near where you intended to throw it. Just have fun and do your best. The best players in the world were beginners once and even they still throw their discs into trees, lakes and other obstructions now and again.
- Keep It Simple—One of the first things you’ll notice is other players carrying golf bags with 20+ discs in them. You don’t need all that. If you can’t throw one disc well, then what good is a whole bag of discs going to do? My recommendation is to purchase a driver, a mid-range and a putter when you get started. Then, go to a field and practice throwing them. Yes, practice. It’s important to get a basic feel for how to throw the discs and the different flight characteristics of each. Chances are pretty good that one of those discs will feel, and fly, a lot better for you than the others. That’s the one you should play with the most when you get started. There’s nothing wrong with throwing only one disc during a round. As you develop your skills then consider adding more discs to your game.
- Learn to Throw Forehand and Backhand—Now that you’ve decided to practice throwing, there are two types of throws you should learn first. The forehand and backhand. Why these? Because their flightpaths are entirely different and you may be better at throwing one way versus the other. By better, I mean more accurate and able to throw a further distance. For the right-handed player, a backhand throw will fade to the left at the end of its flight path where a forehanded throw will fade to the right (this is opposite for lefties). By learning how to throw each of these, you’ll be able to navigate around trees and other obstacles to get your disc closer to the basket.
- Play the Course—Intuitively we all start out playing by thinking that we should throw directly at the basket, but what if there is a tree in the way? Instead of thinking about getting closer to the basket, try thinking about how you can set yourself up for having a clear shot at the basket on your next throw. Throwing a shorter shot to a clearing that gives you a clear second shot at the basket will be better than a longer throw that’s behind a bush. Seems simple, but it’s one of the easiest things to overlook when you’re playing.
- Go with Experienced Players—The disc golf course is a judgement free zone, especially for the “noob”. We were all noobs once too, and we want you to love the game like we do. Playing with people that are better than you will help you to develop your own strategy, skills, and may also give you some inspiration to practice and get better. And, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I will caution you, however. Disc golfers love to give advice coaching to noobs. Be receptive and open to what they want to teach you, but decide for yourself which techniques work best for you. If you really want to hone in on certain techniques, then do a quick search on YouTube as there are a lot of technique videos online that you can learn from. Or, tune in to the live broadcasts of the Disc Golf Pro Tour and learn from the pros.
- Have Fun—I can’t emphasize this enough. Have fun! Once you develop your basic skills, then you can think about shooting a low score. Until then, celebrate your good shots, laugh and learn from your bad shots, and play in a variety of places with a variety of people. One of my most memorable rounds of disc golf when I first got started was playing at night with a group of friends. Playing at night helps you to relax and focus on the fundamentals as you’re not able to see the obstacles that may be in your way and you can concentrate solely on throwing the disc. Some of my most memorable shots have come at night when I had no idea what I was throwing at, and instead let the disc fly with purpose towards the glowing basket.
I hope that you’ve learned something from my tips, and that you’ve realized that disc golf is about having a good time. At least, that’s what the game means to me. It’s a low cost sport that just about anyone can play, and that doesn’t take a lot of time to learn. If you’re a disc golfer and think there’s something else beginners should know, then please add your own tip to the comments below.
Now, get out there and play some disc!
If you’re ready to start playing disc golf, or are looking for some new discs to add to your bag, then check out the Flashflight LED Disc Golf discs. Check out the discs here.